Since leaving the government in which he occupied two significant portfolios, Solicitor General and Labor Minister, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe has defied all odds and refused to be chained in cowardice as he continues to toast the feet of his former boss, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the fire, perforating her administrative credentials.
The erudite lawyer, who has been raising the bar against the president’s style of leadership, particularly on the issue of nepotism and cronyism is taking the fight beyond the periphery of mere criticisms, now calling on the venerated leader to call a quit or be impeached by the National Legislature.
Cllr. Gongloe said President Sirleaf needed to resign the presidency because her actions were in complete violation of the Liberian constitution which she was sworn to uphold and protect, adding that such actions are real replica of the appallingly indelible marks the True Whig Party left on Liberia’s political scene of time.
The True Whig Party, a political institution of elite class of Liberians, ruled Liberia for protracted period of decades with draconian hands and promoted inoperative and anti-democratic tendencies such as corruption, nepotism and other vices that defied human existence and freedom.
He spoke last Friday at programs marking the 42nd Anniversary of the Students Unification Party (SUP) of the University of Liberia, saying that SUP remains strong party than any other party, even on the national level, because it subscribes to the doctrine of self-evaluation and self-criticisms, which most parties vehemently abhor.
He began his case starting with some of the events that characterized the elections of last year where he said he realized that standard-bearers of the two leading parties (he did not name) took hold of party activities outside of set standards and rules.
“From information that I gathered during the 2012 election, close family members of the standard bearers of bearers of the two leading political parties were controlling the campaign finances of those parties outside the official structures of those parties,” he said.
Moreover, he said such affairs was “not surprising to some of us because the standard-bearers of the two leading parties were products of the True Whig Party, the party that institutionalized nepotism, cronyism and other forms of patronage in this country.”
Saying that the TWP, as it was widely known, only knew the politics of “So say one so say all,” the writing was on the wall that victory for any of the two parties would have led to another era of nepotism in Liberian history.
“In order words, what we have today is a True Whig Party style of governance. Under the True Whig Party, respect for the Constitution and statute laws was not important, but the whims and caprices of the Standard-bearer.” Clllr. Gongloe noted and said it should not be a surprise to any Liberian current efforts being employed by the Ellen-led administration to inculcate and institutionalize nepotism because they are aborigines of the TWP background.
Not because efforts are being exerted to replant the seeds of nepotism, cronyism and patronage that Liberians should keep silent and welcome, he said, stressing “No effort to return Liberia to its ugly past should be accepted anymore.”
Endeavoring to redefine the masses struggle amidst what he termed rampant corruption, nepotism and massive unemployment” he focused his speech on the topic “Nepotism was wrong yesterday and is wrong today”.
Giving the dictionary definition of nepotism as “favoritism shown by somebody in power to relatives and friends, especially in appointing them to good positions,” he cited few examples of cases where nepotism does not hold water.
On the basis of the definitions provided, he said those who say the appointment of relatives who are competent and have integrity falls outside the definition of nepotism are wrong.
“Unless they write their own dictionaries, they have to accept the current definition of nepotism. Except for monarchies, like Kingdoms and empires, where countries are ruled by families, nepotism is wrong everywhere, especially in democratic countries such as ours, Cllr. Gongloe indicated.
As he has been saying from time to time, the onetime human rights activist said nepotism was wrong as it is an abuse of power and provides “a situation where the best jobs in a country are occupied by relatives of public officials.”
“It deprives better qualified citizens who are not relatives of public officials of opportunities for employment. A nepotistic leader promotes patronage, opportunism and sycophancy as avenues for employment. In an atmosphere where nepotism prevails, honest patriots and nationalists are deprived of opportunities for employment because they are not prepared to stoop so low. Nepotism therefore is a dangerous and very serious corrupt practice because it has the tendency to promote corruption and mass unemployment.”
The president, he said, was practicing nepotism as it was the order of the day under Presidents Tubman and Tolbert, the last True Whig Party standard-bearers, and Liberians including the current president were critical of Tubman and Tolbert.
“The Liberian people including our current president were very critical of those presidents. But nepotism was not prohibited by law. It was only morally wrong. Therefore, it was left to the discretion of those leaders to depart from the practice. They did not and the critics could do nothing. Perhaps, this was one of the reasons for the military coup of 1980. In order to prevent future leaders of Liberia from practicing nepotism, we the Liberian people decided to provide a prohibition in the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, the highest law of our land to serve as a deterrent,” he recalled.
Citing Article 5c of the Constitution which abhors nepotism as an abuse of power and a corrupt practice, he said once it was wrong under Samuel K. Doe and Charles Taylor who violated this provision of the Constitution, under Tubman and Tolbert, it is equally wrong under President Sirleaf.
“Many of us including our current president criticized and opposed Presidents Doe and Taylor for nepotism which is fast creeping in Liberia. Nepotism was wrong under Presidents Tubman, Tolbert, Doe and Taylor. We declared nepotism wrong yesterday by the definitions that I gave earlier. By those same definitions nepotism is wrong today,” he said.
According to him, it will be foolhardy for people to give different definition of nepotism for President Sirleaf that is different from the definition that we judged other presidents by, stressing “We cannot and we should not do so. It would be grossly unfair.”
President Sirleaf was recently quoted by a local daily as insisting on not firing her sons who she appointed to positions in government, something Cllr. Gongloe said is in clear violation of the Constitution of Liberia.
“It is therefore, a violation of her oath of office as President of Liberia,” he stressed, and wondered whether the president should violate the constitution and go free “in a country of great men and women.”
According to Gongloe, the president, as any other president, does not have the right to choose not to respect the, saying “a violation of the Constitution of Liberia by a President is an impeachable offense.”
In an apparent reference to President Sirleaf as breaker of the law, Cllr. Gongloe noted that no Liberian President has the right to break the law and still expect to enjoy the respect and trust of the people under the authority of the same constitution.
Saying that Liberia is a democracy where governance is by the people, of the people and for the people based upon the rule of law, he reminded those in power that this is not a monarchy where the king or emperor’s will prevails. “Never again in Liberia should we allow any President of Liberia to govern Liberia like monarch. A president who governs a democratic country like a monarch is an imperial president,” he warned.
By her flagrant violation of the Constitution, he said the president has become an imperial president which she vowed not to be in her inaugural speech of 2006.
“President Sirleaf has made a clear choice between her sons and Liberia. She has by her defiant statement subordinated the interest of the people of Liberia to the interest of her children. Our President has made a clear choice in favor of her family over her country.”
He called on the President to do the only honorable and logical thing left for her to do under the circumstances and that is to resign as president and let Vice President Joseph Boakai carry on until the next election, adding “If she does not do so, then the House of Representatives, in the supreme interest of the people should impeach her.”
More than that, he stressed that the President cannot place herself above the Constitution of Liberia, noting “She is not at liberty to place her family interest above the interest of Liberia.”